The personal care category was looking good, real good at Natural Products Expo West 2011 in Anaheim. And beauty-product enthusiasts had a lot to celebrate—from Weleda’s 90th birthday to companies responding to demand for transparency, efficacy, convenience, education, and more. Find out how old ingredients got a makeover, sun care stepped up its game, and technology hit personal care in our beauty picks gallery, and read on for more top trends from the show.

Innovation for education
Manufacturers and cosmetics organizations are transforming the point of sale into the point of experience by using technology to bring information to consumers—as they’re shopping (two standouts: Mychelle’s imaging system and NaTrue’s QR codes). "A consumer needs that holistic overview of what a company is doing," says Julie Tyrrell, NaTrue director general. Other companies are relying on creative marketing campaigns to get shoppers to join conversations that go beyond products. I am woman hear me … talk about those things I was never supposed to talk about, urges Emerita’s new campaign, which the company launched along with its new feminine hygiene products.

Cosmetics for a cause
It’s always gratifying to see companies supporting social and environmental causes, while manufacturing efficacious products. And it doesn’t hurt that these efforts help build a brand’s identity. Leading the way was the push toward more fair trade in the natural personal care sector. Although you won’t yet see (you probably will soon, however) any personal care products completely Fair Trade certified—since most products contain various ingredients that can’t even get the cert—you will find many more beauty products containing Fair-Trade Certified ingredients, according to Fair Trade USA. In fact, over the past year, aromatherapy and body oils with this label increased by 19 percent and skin and body care products by an impressive 32 percent. Eco Lips One World balms are some new products to look for. Plus, environmental support came from Weleda, which will donate $25,000 to Conservation International this year, and Derma e, which has moved to 100 percent wind power.

Transparency and convenience in sun care; certifications still hot

Sun care: transparency and convenience 
If you’ve defied a dermatologist to tell you that you really do need to wear some sort of SPF every day (in an office, in the winter??) you’ll find that, well, you really do. The problem? Some consumers have expressed concern over nano particles, used in sun care to make products appear colorless (though many experts and the EWG say that unless in aerosole form nano doesn't pose a large risk). Others simply don’t like the sometimes-heavy feel of an SPF in cream form. At Expo, manufacturers proved they’re listening to the need for convenient, lightweight, and nearly sheer sun care for everyday wear. Elemental Herbs, a California-based company that grows much of its own certified organic herbs, launched a facial sunscreen stick that goes on without a white residue—and without using nano!—plus fits into your purse. With the launch of Mineral Fusion’s new skin care line comes the Mineral SPF 30 Brush-On Sun Defense, that offers sun protection in a dry, sheer powder, the first product of its kind in the natural space.

Certifications are still hot
NSF recently joined forces with NaTrue to develop the first American National Standard for natural personal care. ”What’s lacking among private standards is transparency. Our goal is to have clarity for consumers,” said Jaclyn Bowen, general manager of Quality Assurance International, which will be active in the certifying process once this new label is in place. At Expo, NSF and NaTrue held their first meeting to discuss the development of the new certification and called on informed suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers to partake in the process. “There will be a balanced membership of external stakeholders,” said Lorna Badman, NSF standards manager. As a result of more certifications and retailer crack downs (such as Whole Foods’) companies are continuing to be more honest about their labeling—a trend we started to see a lot of at Expo East in October.

Oral care speaks up; old ingredients, new products

Oral care speaks up
Oral care had a big presence at the show, with products popping up from start-up companies and conglomerates alike. New brands were more likely to focus on hot, exotic ingredients as the foundation of their lines. New York-based VitaCare features superfruit extracts along with added vitamins and calcium in its gum, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Established companies, either those just launching oral care products or reinventing them, took a kid-friendly approach: Dr. Fresh is using characters like Hello Kitty to get natural toothpaste into kids’ hands, while calcium supplement manufacturer Coral LLC focused on sweeter flavors in its first kids' toothpaste.
   
Old ingredients, new products
Plant-based ingredients that have been around for everywhere from hundreds of years (witch hazel) to 2 billion years (chlorella) are continuing to reinvent themselves in personal care, whether appearing in new certified organic products, like the first Certified Organic Witch Hazel Astringent courtesy of Humphreys, to make the leap from supplements to personal care, which Sun Chlorella did with its new cream.